Day 16: Switch to reusables

Photograph by  Antoine Repesse

Photograph by Antoine Repesse

Why should you switch to reusables ?

We live in a consumer-driven society where people prefer to throw away rather than wash and reuse what they already have. Why don’t we start switching from single use objects to reusable options ?

In fact, single-use products are more expensive on the long term and will end up in landfill, where they will eventually take thousands of years to degrade. When switching to reusable options, you will save money in the long term, generate less waste and will have a better impact on the environment. Also you divert a lot of waste going to landfill and reduce the energy consumption that would be needed for recycling.



Where should we start ?

You will see that after searching the internet for new alternatives to single use products, there are heaps of options (to buy or DIY) but it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. Changing all at once would be a lot to manage, and a little expensive. But a good option could be to choose and start with a few products to change as soon as you can and then gradually making other swaps.

Everyone’s starting point will be different. You may want to consider a reusable swap of something you use every day (like a takeaway cup), the cheapest swap (like a reusable bag), or the quick and easy swaps (like asking to leave the plastic straw out of your drinks). Here is a list of a few possible alternatives to introduce in your daily life:


Plastic Bag

We’re sure that many of you have already switched to reusable bags as a result of the recent plastic bag ban law in July 2019. It’s a good one to start with, especially because most people already own a reusable alternative of it.

You can use any of the reusable bags you already have at home to go to the supermarket or any other retail stores, no need to buy newer or prettier ones if you already have some that will do the job.


Reusable Bag


Paper Towel

This one is really easy as well, since you can just stop buying paper towels as there is no need for. It can be substituted with things that you already own like sponges, cloths, tea towels, rags. You can also learn how to make your zero waste sponges out of old socks and tights.

If you occasionally need some of those single use towels (e.g. mopping oil and grease), you might want to grab some of the napkins sometimes provided when you dine out and that will go to the bin anyways, save them for those times when you really need one single use napkin.


Sponges, Cloths, Tea Towels, Rags


Disposable pads and tampons

A woman uses about 10,000-12,000 pads and tampons in her lifetime. A lot of waste going to landfill that can be easily avoided with reusable alternatives. They will have an upfront cost a bit but in the long term will be much cheaper than disposables, and kinder on your body with less risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome and less irritation from bleached disposables, as well as reducing waste.

Some of the possible alternatives: cloth pads, menstrual cup, underwear specially designed for periods, and more online to suit any women’s period needs.


Cloth pads, menstrual cups or menstrual underwear


Disposable coffee cup

500 billion disposable cups are produced every year. Most of them can't be recycled because they're lined with plastic. If you're sitting in the coffee shop ask for a mug to stay.

If you're getting your drink to-go cup bring your own cup. I use a mason jar if I'm getting something cold to drink. But, for hot drinks use a keep cup or an insulated water bottle. Make sure to ask the cafe if they partner with Again Again.


More ideas for reusable switches :

Cogo Reusble Swaps full-01.jpg

There are some fantastic stores around New Zealand where you can buy your reusable swaps, as well as online shops too. Don’t forget to check the CoGo app for some awesome shops around your local area as well as online stores.